Sunday, April 10, 2011

Seiho Boys High School! Volume 5

By Kaneyoshi Izumi. Released in Japan as "Men's Kou" by Shogakukan, serialized in the magazine Bessatsu Comic ("Betsucomi"). Released in North America by Viz.

I would like to note before I begin this review that for artists who want the covers of their manga volumes to feature a close-up of their cast as the volumes go on, please try to at least have the cast involved in that particular volume. Genda is on this cover, but probably should have been on the cover of 4, as he doesn't do anything here. But then, you can't have Maki and Kamiki on all the covers...

We've passed the halfway mark in this series, so some plots are going to have to start wrapping up. And it's not going to be Maki's, as that is no doubt being saved for the very end. Really, this is another volume where Maki gets put through the wringer. There's a rumor of a ghost in the building, and Maki becomes convinced that it's Erika returned from the afterlife. In reality, it turns out to be some shut-in guy with long hair... or is it? Turns out it would appear it *is* Erika, who comes to Maki in a dream to wish him goodbye. All this does is remind him how little he's gotten over her death, unfortunately. Then he goes on a date with his new girlfriend (also Erika) which goes badly once more due to his inability to open up. There's a happy ending to the chapter, sort of, but he still hasn't told Erika about *other* Erika, and I get the feeling we're headed for a wreck here. I'm not certain this is going to be a happy ending.

Like Maki, Kamiki also has trouble expressing himself, but he's far more stoic about it, so doesn't quite get the flak that Maki does. You'll recall that Miyaji asked him at the end of Volume 4 if he would go out with her for real. Well, turns out he asked to think about it... and has suddenly become very hard to get a hold of. Since Kamiki is not exactly an open book, Miyaji has to constantly guess what he's thinking, and being naturally a worried, paranoid person she assumes the worst. This culminates in her arrival at the school festival, where despite her best efforts not only does Kamiki keep running off, but the one time he's around she's being comforted by Hanai, who's been helping her out, and he catches the two of them in an embrace! However, this is definitely the more light-hearted of the two relationships in this volume, and things all work out well in the end. (There's also a great end gag, which helps to undercut the schmaltz nicely.)

There is one pure funny chapter, involving token gay classmate Hanai deciding to become a photographer, and getting bribed by Miyaji and her classmates into taking candid photos of all the boys, but for the most part a lot of this volume falls more into the melodrama category. I'd noted earlier how I wasn't quite certain how to peg this series, and that still holds true; it keeps dropping wacky into its serious, and serious into its wacky. For the most part, it manages to balance it quite well, though you can see some problems - apparently Nogami and the nurse don't have enough plot to fill more chapters, as she's absent and he gets about four lines. But I think people are reading this title to see the cute, try-harder girl get the hot guy, or to watch the cute guy attempt to move on with his very similar girl. Certainly I hope to see that developed more in Volume 6. Definitely recommended overall.

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